Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Notes for my colleague

1) I am not remotely interested in your health. Not even a bit. I don't care about whether or not you might or might not be coming down with a cold. I'm not bothered about how tired you are, or that you have a headache. Also, in light of my indifference to your Life Threatening Heart Condition* (that you will not shut up about, despite nobody caring), are you really surprised that offering to show me your ingrowing toenail elicits a less than enthusiastic response? Oh, and just as an FYI? Ingrowing toenails are not a sign of a person being run down. They do not just magically manifest themselves. Really.

2) If you are going to discuss me with that woman I also hate when I am out of the office, please invent a plausible conversation-switch for when I walk back in. It saves me having to glare at you while you blush and trail pathetically off.

3) I could not possibly care less if you don't like the radio station. I am in the office for thirty nine hours a week. You are there for thirty. Therefore, I get to choose (I also get to choose, of course, because I am impossibly bossy and a control freak but we'll gloss over that part). If you turn the radio down when I leave the office (presumably so that you and That Woman can hear each other bitching about me) I will turn it up even louder when I return. I will do this Every Time, until conversation is impossible and nobody can hear the phones ringing any more.

4) Buy a shirt that fits. Nobody likes to see that, especially with that tattooed on it.

That is all.

For now.

* That isn't even life threatening, as accidentally admitted by the person concerned. So shut up.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Conversations with my daughter

Small Person is, frankly, pretty horrible at the moment*.

She's on a two-week sticker chart project to earn a scooter. This is in no small part due the fact that we are entirely sick of having a thirteen-year old girl in a six-year old body mooching and stropping around the place. I despair. Where once were smiles and capitulation, now are only glares and huffs and withering, pitying looks. I am beginning to feel slightly marginalised. She won't even look at me in the playground now for fear of someone seeing us interact. I physically wrestled her into kissing me goodbye this morning, and was subjected to the unsettling first indignant cry of "Muuuuum!" even as she struggled from my grasp and legged it into class.

Has it come to this, so soon?

Mind you, the new, tweenage** Small Person is sometimes still unintentionally hilarious. I asked her who she had lunch with today. "Oh, Matthew", she said. Ah! said I, is he your boyfriend? "Not any more," she airily replied with all the insouciance of a boy-magnet at the very beginning of her third full week in her new school.

She doesn't get it from me. Honest.

* I still love her though so don't be telling the authorities on me or anything. You can't have her. She's MINE.

** I only put that in to make you feel sick. Could there be a word more effective at making children kick at the walls and vow to kill you in your sleep? Especially if you say it in front of their friends. While dancing in their bedrooms to Radio 1.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A gap in the market?

Sometimes I scare myself.

There was a conversation in the office this afternoon about static electricity. This, in turn, led to one of those ooh-I-remember-that! discussions about physics lessons at school. Now, I don’t really get physics. I mean, I don’t understand why I need to know about things. The world just sort of works – I don’t need to know how.

The national curriculum and I didn’t see eye to eye on this and, until the age of thirteen, I sat through weekly physics lessons in a state of permanent confusion as my classmates ran little trolleys down slanty planks, or hung things off springs, or engaged in any manner of random activities that made little or no sense to me.

The one thing I did like, however, was the Van Der Graaf generator. For the uninitiated, this is a weird shiny dome thing that gives off some sort of electricity that makes your hair stick up but doesn’t kill you. Which is the best part, really. And then I got to thinking – where do you buy stuff like that?

Which is why I spent the afternoon googling “Van Der Graaf generator” and “physics supplies” and ended up wading through pages and pages of horrible prog album covers. And I still don’t know where a person, or even a school for that matter, might buy such a thing. Does anyone know? For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, it is imperative that I find out.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary...

It's well known that I don't like people.

However, I feel I should point out that this isn't some vague dislike on the basis of personality. No. When it comes to misanthropy I am something of a completist. I don't like anything about the population in general*.

People are, generally, horrible. They get in your way. They talk at you, and give you their opinions whether you want them or not. They brush past you, and touch you when they haven't been invited to, and tell you about their bowel habits, or their hysterectomy, or how that-man-next-door has never been the same since his stump got infected.

I have, in my time, been in close range of the full horror of Other People. On a cramped flight back from Mexico, the Other Half and I watched in disbelief as two lumpy people in dirty vest tops shoved their way down the aisle and flumped into the seats in front of us. I'm guessing they'd avoided excess baggage by not packing any toiletries. As if the week-old hamburger aroma wasn't bad enough, they both proceeded to break foetid wind for the duration of the nine hour flight.

I have also worked for man with such chronic halitosis that I could effectively gauge whether he was in his office by cautiously sniffing as I opened the door to the outer office a full twenty-five feet from where he was breathing. Appraisals were a nightmare, and for the first three months of my pregnancy I couldn't get within four feet of him without retching. I used to wonder about his wife. Did she not notice? Or was there a No Kissing rule in their house? The mind boggles.


One of the people in my office.

Now, we all get a bit hot from time to time. It's a generally accepted fact of being human. The office is a bit stuffy. A bit of BO is all well and good. But, when I walk into the inner office and am brought up short by the smell of someone's hair...well. It's a bit of a situation, and if it's like this in January what will it be like in the full blast of summer (we are not, for security reasons, allowed to have any windows or doors open at any time and there is no aircon). So. To broach, or not to broach? Or should I simply breathe through my mouth** for the rest of my working life?

I would like to close by wholeheartedly and sincerely apologising to anyone who ever got within three feet of me during what we will call the Dreadlock Years.

* Not you, silly. You're lovely.

** This in itself bothers me. Is it more or less hygienic to breathe smells through your nose or your mouth? I don't like to taste smells. It's wrong.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

High School Shitfest

I feel dirty.

It's generally accepted that films for children are rubbish. For years, adults have winced through endless crap animations and horrid musicals, with little or no chance of spotting a redeeming feature. In the last few years, however, the genre has taken a turn for the slightly-better, with a fair amount of sly-wink grownup humour among the greatly improved animations. Musicals, though? Pretty much still horrid. Which brings me neatly to the ninety-minute mind enema that is High School Musical.

This film is, in a word, Fucking Awful.

I'm not sure quite what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. Small Person has been banging on about it for weeks so I bowed to pester power and bought it yesterday. In my head, we would sit together and watch it and I might even like it, a bit. I had vague thoughts of Grease*, and The Sound of Music, and should really have known much, much better. It's a Disney Channel film, for a kickoff. And in the bland, corporate world of the Disney Channel, there's no such thing as a film without a Message. It made my brain hurt.

...As they reach for the stars and follow their dreams, everyone learns about acceptance, teamwork and being yourself.....

Yes. That's what we ALL learned. It was relentless. Seriously. The Hitler Youth would have been overjoyed if they could have got Disney on board for a spot of marketing work. It made me want to go out and kick mentally disadvantaged people, just to get the saccharin out of my psyche. The entire film was like that scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian, where the crowd are outside Brian's window shouting in synch "yes! we ARE all individuals!". I'm pretty sure that the cast members were branded with the Mickey Mouse symbol when they signed up. Hell, I'm pretty sure they were branded, lobotomised and made to listen to Phil Collins Disney soundtrack albums for the duration of filming. They were like shiny mannequins - a sort of Village of the Damned, if the Village of the Damned had a really good dentist. Brr.

There was nothing at all that I liked about this film. The acting was horrible. The miming in the song parts made me want to set my eyes on fire. The soundtrack was like drowning in custard with the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears singing close-harmony acapella versions of Celine Dion albums in the background. The dancing was as spastic as you can get without needing a Statement of Special Education Needs. And don't even get me started on the plot.

I can only surmise that the writers spent the six months before starting the screenplay watching The Young and The Restless and Mary Poppins while ingesting large amounts of magic mushrooms. It had everything - the new girl in school, the troubled basketball player who had Deep Feelings about the new girl in school and was struggling with a nascent desire to perform lavish song-and dance numbers in front of his bewildered peer group, lots of hey-kids-let's-do-the-show-right-here cafeteria dancing, a spiteful blonde girl, a misunderstanding, a random plot device, clonky overuse of modern technology (text me your number...oh, here's my laptop.....oh! look! everyone's in detention for having a mobile phone in class!), a school/home/sports/doing the right thing conflict, a batty teacher, a strict teacher who was also basketball-playing-singing-falling-in-love boy's father (are you keeping up at the back?), and the inevitable ooh, we're all pulling together because the world is a fabulous, special place as long as we can all, you know, understand each other conclusion.

To sum up. Avoid. Really. I know it's for six year old girls who want to go to stage school and be Beyonce when they grow up. I know I'm not supposed to get it, or like it. But it made me feel like I'd boiled a puppy - guilty and more than a little bit sick.

* By the way, has anyone else been taken aback at how rude Grease is when you watch it as an adult? I'm not letting Small Person near it until she's at least ten.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Oh, good. Another one about my mother.

Apologies in advance for length.

I’ve been studiously avoiding my mother since Christmas. This makes me both very happy (no mother! Woo!) and slightly guilty (Fifi Sis gets all the gubbins. Boo). However, mother has now thrown a large spanner in the works by instigating (potentially) her own financial downfall, and wanting to discuss it in detail with everyone.

A bit of background for anyone who’s still reading despite this being another post about my mother:

My mother and stepfather divorced over ten years ago. My stepfather is, um, extremely rich. When my stepfather (who I am not, by the way, generally sympathetic towards – the man was a violent, alcoholic bully who made various people’s lives a misery for a good few years) tired of my mother and decided he would rather marry the colleague he’d been doing for some months, my mother set to work on the divorce settlement. She came out of it with a Spanish villa, a lump sum and a monthly alimony payment, which was to be paid to her for life (out of my stepfather’s estate should he be selfish enough to die first).

Fast-forward to the present day.

Mother, for reasons known only to herself, wrote to my stepfather to inform him that she has, ahem, met a man (we will cover this in a separate post. Probably). Would this affect the settlement, she wondered? Somewhat reasonably, my stepfather wrote back to say that yes, it probably would. He explained that he had been paying her monthly for over ten years now, and that, frankly, it was becoming a bit of a stretch. Would she agree to a lump sum payoff, or perhaps less money?

At this point, mother went into a flat spin. I will now present, for your delight, a paraphrasing of the monologue she launched into when I gritted my teeth and returned her call this afternoon:

….so I went to the Citizen’s Advice, and I asked them what could I do? I mean, at least I’ve got a car now that I’m happy to keep [mother buys a brand new car every time the new registration comes out] but I’ve got three holidays to pay for. And it’s not that he can’t afford it, he was on £massive salary when he left ***. And I looked in the estate agents today and his house [in Gloucestershire. Mother lives in Essex] must be worth at least £number plucked wildly from the air. I expect it’s all in offshore accounts though. And the letter had obviously been dictated to him by a solicitor as it was full of long words he wouldn’t be able to spell [stepfather was deputy chairman of a multinational company when he retired. I expect knowing how to spell wasn’t very important or anything ]. And when I rang the solicitor the girl on reception didn’t seem very interested but once I told her I was getting three thousand pounds a month from my ex-husband she soon found the senior partner for me. And it’s all very well him changing his will, but all it means for me is that when he dies I’m left with nothing! Nothing! And I’ve got three holidays to pay for. All I’d have left is £reasonable amount of money a month! And he’s been paying me three thousand pounds! A month! And once he’s dead it all stops! I mean, it’s hardly fair……

……and on and on and on and on and on. For fifteen minutes. I interrupted once to ask how her recent MRI scan went and she had almost completely forgotten about it, pausing only briefly to tell me it went ok (dammit) before talking about the money again.

I’m sure they just LOVE that “three-thousand-pounds-a-month” stuff in the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.


(Cue vague terror that mother will google "three thousand pounds a month alimony" and find this blog)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sharing the love

I am poorly ill.

This, of course, means that I am in the mood to be kind to people* (in the same way that when I am well I am mean). So, your mission is this (and there's no choosing to accept it - I demand that you do as I say, whether you like it or not) :

It's easy. You just go over to the top right-hand corner under my avatar, and view my complete profile. Once you're there, pick something. Film, book, music - whatever. Click through until you find all the other weirdos bloggers with the same one. Now, simply find one who has posted recently (in the last two weeks or so, please, and someone who seems likely to post again), read their most recent post and say something nice** about it. You can do it anonymously if you want, but no nasties please, no matter whether you like the subject matter or agree with the opinions expressed.

Then, all you have to do is come back here, say where you ended up and what you put, and bob's your dad's brother.

* settles back to watch this one die on its arse*

Off you go, then.

* I am feeling much saner than earlier when I was, frankly, murderous. It's a good job that when I meet my new Arch-Nemesis we will both be on a First Aid course.

** Please note that "nice" does not necessarily equate to "sincere". There is no requisite for meaning what you say, just say it nicely.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dear Surly....

...I sprayed my wife's parrot with deodorant to make him ill just so I could get her back home.

I'm 32 and my wife is 30. She left me two months ago, taking my nine-year-old son with her. I'd been drinking too much. I treated her like dirt and forgot her 30th birthday. I didn't desire her sexually either. But I hated the house being empty. I tried flowers and an "I love you" sign at the end of her road but realised the only way to get her home was through her beloved parrots.

So I sprayed one with deodorant. A few days later it became ill so I took it to the vets and paid the bill. It was simple. I became her hero and she came home.

Do I admit what I've done or live with the guilt? I can't cope with an empty house again.

Martin, Slough.

Dear Martin,

Um, excuse me? You did what? What sort of a person goes from flowers and "I love you" to attacking a parrot with anti-perspirant? And now you want to tell your wife? Jesus.

My advice to you, Martin, is to say nothing. Nothing At All. Although you might want to invest in a little therapy on the side to try and understand not only what made you formulate this frankly ridiculous plan but also why you are the sort of person who, not content with randomly squirting household pets with deodorant, needs to write to a national newspaper to find out if you ought to fess up.

Oh, and one more thing. Buy roll-on from now on. You know it makes sense.

UPDATE: For the sake of clarity I feel I should point out that this letter appeared on the Saturday problem pages of a national newspaper. People do not email their problems to me. I am not that sane/popular. Please do not email your problems to me - I have enough of my own, thank you.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Apparently it IS rocket science

One of the things that drives me demented about the office I work in is the through traffic.

On any given day, at any time, someone who is not part of the office team will come in to do some admin work. As far as they are concerned, anything more technical than a calculator is to be treated with extreme caution, and must not be operated without establishing the correct procedure. This procedure is clarified through a series of fucking stupid questions.

Hapless Non-Admin Person: Um. How do I use the shredder*?

Me: ……………..

HNAP: Um. Oh! There’s a button here. Do I press the button?

Me (Gritted teeth): Yes. Just press the button.

HNAP: Um. So is it on now, then?

Me (breaking off from biting desk): Yes.

HNAP: So, do I put the paper in this bit? Oh! The paper goes in here! (at this point the shredder bin invariably becomes full so shredding grinds to a halt halfway down the second sheet of A4). Oh [standing helplessly in front of shredder]. Is it broken?

Me: Grrrraaaaaahhhhhhhhh!! For fucks sake!! Are you stupid?! It’s a FUCKING SHREDDER!!!!! How HARD can it BE???

Well, that’s how it would play out in my fantasy SG-goes-postal-and-offs-colleague-with-a-copy-of-the-stationery-catalogue scenario. In reality, I either pretend to be on the phone or just get up and leave. I know it isn’t fair. I know maybe office equipment fills people with dread and it’s like some horrible out-of-body experience where first there’s nothing and then you suddenly come to and there you are, sitting in the pilot’s seat in a Boeing 737 that’s full of happy orphans travelling to see Santa and you don’t know how to fly a plane. Or something.

I just think that if you are over thirty and cannot photocopy a memo you might want to think about residential care.

* See also printer (um. Someone sent some printing through last Thursday. Will it have come out yet?), photocopier (er, do I put the paper on here [points to glass] or do I just press the button and it will copy it?) and, somewhat randomly, filing cabinet (so, I just open that drawer then and the files are in here?). Gah.

Monday, January 08, 2007

It's always the quiet ones

Ideas-wise, there’s been a bit of a drought, really.

I’ve started and discarded a number of posts over the last couple of days, ranging from such exciting topics as I Have Not Smoked Any Fags For Nine Days, to I Am Very Fat And Despite Trying To Cut Back I Am Still Getting Fatter. All of it dull, all of it worthy of a nine-year old returning to school after the Christmas break and stretching What I Did In My Holidays to three hundred words with the tactical inclusion of the day when Daddy had a little too much festive cheer and called Mummy a frigid bitch at the dinner table*.

Salvation (for you lot) came in the unlikely form of a hit on these very pages, directed from a search engine enquiry phrased thusly (thus? Like this? Whatever):

Why did Noel Edmonds shoot an elephant?


Why indeed?

Now, in anyone’s book (excluding, of course, anyone who has never heard of the tiny, bouffant host of Britain’s Most Exciting Game Show**), the unexpected bobbing to the surface of Noel Edmonds’ having, at some point, raised a gun in his weeny, child-sized hands and shot an elephant is a moment to savour. Was he on safari? Was he at the zoo? Did he, in a fit of pique at the failure of Noel’s House Party to be commissioned for a further interminable series of squalid public-baiting and minor-celebrity-gunging, ditch plans for buying that new helicopter and have an elephant (or maybe a variety of wildlife; who knows?) shipped to his Devonshire estate in order that he might vent his miniature spleen by slaughtering it? Good lord, faced with these potential scenarios, who wouldn’t do a bit of digging around the internet to see what the skinny was?

Sadly, it isn’t true. No mammoth massacre in LittleNoel’s sordid past. Shame.

It’s not all bad though – I did learn that he once had sex in the back of a Land Rover, and that he once drove a Ford GT40 at 186 mph on the Tring bypass. Naked.

Sources do not state whether his jumper was tossed casually onto the back seat during these manoeuvres or (as is more likely) folded neatly along the agreed and ratified Edmonds’ Creases and placed in a sterile garment bag in the boot.

Christ on a bike. I need to get out more.

* This may or may not be based on a true story from Small Surly Girl’s Bumper Box O’Memories.

** Where “game show” is interchangeable with “middle-aged people doing some guessing”

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I'm with stupid.

Small Person had her first day at her new school today.

The last three weeks have been a flurry of buying new uniform, sorting out before-and-after-school clubs, filling in forms and battling with the Ex over how he can't do his school run mornings any more because the new school is "too far" from his house. Quite how he has arrived at this conclusion is waaaay beyond me - the old school was ten miles from his house; the new one is only four. Down bigger roads. He even went so far as to tell Small Person that he "might never see her again" when she went to the new place. No wonder she hasn't slept properly for a week*. What a twat that man is.


The new school wanted to see Small Person's birth certificate. I didn't have a copy, so asked the Ex to send it home with her at the weekend. Simple, no? The school could take a copy, and the Ex (since it is unfathomably important to him that he holds this document) could have it back tonight. What I didn't bargain for, however, is the Ex's deep, visceral need to fuck me around even if there are absolutely no benefits to himself. Should he simply let me have Small Person's birth cert in order that I might show the school office and she might therefore be allowed to join them today? No! That would never do! I, this is the part I don't get**. If I did keep her certificate, what exactly would I do with it? Sell Small Person's identity to Nigerian fraudsters in return for US $100,000,000 that is even now being stored in a vault belonging to a cousin of the deposed governor of Lagos? Sell Small Person herself? Make a thousand copies and wallpaper the living room? Gah.

The upshot being that, on Small Person's first day at her new school (and my first day in the playground amongst all those middle-class mothers), I had to stand in awkward non-conversation with the Ex. And even though he'd made a slight effort (by that I mean it appeared that he had washed his face at some point in the last month), he still had muddy boots, filthy trousers and a camouflage cap on. When Small Person's teacher opened the classroom door I introduced the Ex to her as "Small Person's father" and tried to make it evident by my slight air of desperation that in no way was he still anything to do with me on a personal level.

The horror.

* I went to sleep before she did last night. However, when I picked her up this afternoon the first words out of her mouth were "can I go again tomorrow?". All good, it seems.

** Get it or not, it is nonetheless a moot point. I simply rang the registrar and ordered a copy of Small Person's birth certificate. Seven quid was a small price to pay for the look on the Ex's face next year when I tell him*** I'm applying for a passport so we can take her to Florida. Ha!

*** Discuss with. I mean discuss with. Of course. And yes, I know this is one of the things he is probably afraid of. But seriously, I would never try and take her away from him****. She can find out for herself what a loony he is when she's older.

**** You don't have to believe me. But then, why should you? Most of you don't even know me really, do you? Consider yourselves lucky.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


So, that's christmas over for another year.

My stomach cries a hearty "thank fuck for that". I swear, I've eaten so much over the festive period I'm amazed I still fit through doorways. I have eaten, and eaten, and eaten some more. I have eaten turkey and cheese and christmas pudding and apple and blackberry pie and Quality Street (in the thousands) and roast beef and some more cheese and french bread and real butter and Doritos and peanuts and pork pie and go on then, perhaps a tiny bit more cheese and I keep waking up and thinking right, now christmas is over I really can get back to normal but I think I'll just eat fifteen Quality Street first and MAKE IT STOP!!!

Seriously. I have put on four pounds and I can feel every single gelatinous, wobbly, hideous one of them. I have invested in a new running watch and have every intention of delighting the neighbours by lurching up and down the road a couple of times a week in the very near future. But, you see, since about September I've been smoking like a championship dart player who's simultaneously moving house, getting divorced and trying to lose weight, and as a result I'm slightly afraid of just plain dropping dead the first time I try and make it round the block. It has disaster written all over it.

However, the one thing that the Other Half and I are very, very proud of is our resolution to make January a dry month. I finished off the last of the Baileys last night. There isn't a drop of alcohol in the house. We are Reformed Characters. Admittedly, the Other Half keeps making puppy-dog eyes at me and intoning "I miss beer..." in a mournful voice, but we're going to soldier on. Push on through. Have the courage of our convictions and do the right thing.

Until Friday, when we're going out for new year drinks with some friends. This actually makes us more pathetic than last year, when we masterfully Did Not Drink until the eighth of January.

This Friday is the fifth. We suck.

Happy new year!

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